Volume 28 - Ukuleles

Written by Patrick Podpadec on . Posted in Northcoast Voice

 

 

                                                                 Stay in Tune                       vol#28

                                                                                 By Luthier Patrick Podpadec

Wow! It's mid June already and I thought I just returned from a guitar show that was in April. It felt like it was just last week. Where is the time going? I guess time really does fly when your having fun. Or to busy to smell the roses. Either way it's flying by. I'm really glad that I made the decision years ago to start repairing and building musical instruments. It has given me the opportunity to see many different instruments from the past as well as the present .I even have seen some drawings of guitars that my 10 yr. old son has drawn up of what the guitar may look like in the future. I have started to see a large “insurgence” in the ukelele world lately. I Enjoy wheen old instruments come in my shop because it gives me an excuse to look it up on the internet to find out as much about it as I can. I recently had a 1920's banjoukelele come in the shop to be repaired . The customer had found it in their basement and had been there for years. It was the grandfathers instrument . I could tell right away that it was a well built banjouke by the choice of walnut wood that was used and the 3pc neck. The hardware was also of a higher standard than most ukes that I've seen. I could also tell that the instrument had been played a lot by it's worn fingerboard, which is also a good indicator that the previous owners liked the way that it sounded or that it was played by a professional. I told the customer that they where relatively common but this one being of such high quality that it could be worth as much as 300 to 400 dollars.Well, I looked it up on the wide world web and found out I was grossly underestimating the value. I never was so happy to be wrong. It turns out that it was made by Ludwig, The drum company back before they were popular for their drums. It was a Wendall Hall “professional” model. After looking at a few sites I found out that it is a highly sought after instrument by those who play and collect them. It is like the crème de la creme of banjoukes. It's value is set at 1000.00 to 1400.00. Whenever I can find that type of information , I like to print it out so that I can give it to the customer .It's quite surprising to know how many different companies were building ukelele's in the 20's. Companies like Bacon, Bruno, Gibson, Gretsch, Slingerland, Martin, Regal, Harmony, etc... etc... just to name a few. The Hawaiian music was all the fad after the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905 in Portland Oregon. In Seattle in 1909 there was a Alaska-Yukon -Pacific Expo that featured continuous live performances of hawaiian music. During the summer of 1909, over 3.7 million people from all over the world had attended the expo.For many, it was there first encounter of “hawaiian” music. It seems today we are experiencing a come back of the instruments of the past. Many new performers are singing some big hits, such as “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and other songs too on the ukelele. There are countless videoes on youtube with performances of people playing the ukes. It has even spawned me to design a new ukelele myself. I have a pretty large selection of wood that is to small to build any full size guitars from and so the ukelele would be the perfect fit for all this good wood that I have laying around. I encourage anyone who has an old ukelele laying around up in the attic or down in the basement ,to wipe off the dust on it and try to get it playing again. Or you can always contact me at (440) 474-2141 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to come give you a hand. You never know, It might be worth more than you had ever imagined. Of course that holds true for any type of stringed instrument that you might find laying around. I truly enjoy doing research on older instruments. I find that it broadens my knowledge and gives me another way of serving my customers . So with that in mind I will leave you to go looking for that “Stradivarious”, or 1830's “Lacote” guitar, or any other treasures you might find and will talk to next time with another new find next week .

Thanks Again!

Patrick from Wood-n-Strings